The School Counselor and Group Counseling
(Adopted 1989; revised 1993, 2002, 2008; reviewed 1999, 2008, 2014, 2020)
ASCA PositionGroup counseling is a vital direct service to students and is an effective part of a school counseling program. It has a positive effect on academic, career and social/emotional development and should be supported by school administration and school districts.
The RationaleGroup counseling, which involves a number of students working on shared tasks and developing supportive relationships in a group setting, is an efficient, effective and positive way of providing direct service to students with academic, career and social/emotional developmental issues and situational concerns. Group counseling has been shown to be effective in improving study skills (Kayler & Sherman, 2009), underachievement (Berger, 2018) and school adjustment (Steen, Liu, Shi, Rose, & Merino, 2018). Group counseling can help reduce social isolation and negative emotions, as well as increase positive peer relations and a sense of belonging. In group counseling, affect, cognition and behavior are emphasized. The group creates a climate of trust, caring, understanding and support that enables students to share their concerns with peers and the school counselor. Group work in schools represents an integral domain in the ASCA National Model (Erford, 2019; ASCA, 2019).
The School Counselor's RoleThe school counselor’s training in group facilitation is unique to the school setting. School counselors provide group counseling services to students and utilize their specialized training to educate and inform school staff and administration on relevant professional group issues or topics. Group counseling services are based on individual student, school and community needs, which are assessed through student data, a referral process or other relevant data.
School counselors prioritize group offerings based on school data analysis. Group counseling should be available to all students in a pre-K–12 setting using data to inform decisions about group availability. School counselors have a responsibility to screen potential group members and address informed consent, purpose of the group, goals, limits to confidentiality and voluntary participation. Best practice will include parental/guardian consent and student agreement to participate (Falco 2011).
School counselors provide counseling sessions in small-group settings that:
- help students overcome issues impeding achievement or success
- help students identify problems, causes, alternatives and possible consequences so they can make decisions and take appropriate action
- are planned, goal-focused, evidenced-based and short-termed in nature
SummaryGroup counseling is an efficient and effective way to meet students’ academic, career and social/emotional needs. Group counseling makes it possible for students to achieve healthier academic and personal growth in a rapidly changing global society. Group counseling is an integral part of a school counseling program and should be supported by school administrators and school districts. The school counselor’s training in group process benefits students, families, school staff and administration. Group counseling has a positive effect on academic achievement and personal growth.
ReferencesAmerican School Counselor Association. (2019). ASCA National Model: A framework for school counseling programs (4th ed.). Alexandria, VA: Author.
Bore, S., Armstrong, S., & Womack, A. (2014). School counselors’ experiential training in group work. GROUP Counseling. Retrieved from http://jsc.montana.edu/articles/v8n26.pdf
Berger, C. (2018). Bringing out the brilliance: A counseling intervention for underachieving students. Professional School Counseling, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/2156759X0001700102
Erford, B.T. (2019). Transforming the School Counseling Profession. (5th ed.) Boston, MA/Pearson Merrill.
Erford, B.T. (2019). Group work: Process an application (2nd. Ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson Merrill.
Falco, L. D. (2011). Why groups? The importance of group counseling in schools. School Counseling Research and Practice, Journal of the Arizona School Counselors’ Association, 3, 17-23.
Kayler, H., & Sherman, J. (2009). At-risk ninth-grade students: A psychoeducational group approach to increase study skills and grade point averages. Professional School Counseling, 12(6). https://doi.org/10.1177/2156759X0901200608
Steen, S., Liu, X., Shi, Q., Rose, J. & Merino, G. (2018). Promoting school adjustment for English-language learners through group work, Professional School Counseling, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/2156759X18777096